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FCC Urges Carriers to Unlock Phones — Or Else

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 10 comments

The head of the FCC wants people to be allowed to unlock their phones and take them to other carrier networks — and is threatening to force carriers to comply.

Yesterday (Nov. 14), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sent a letter to Steve Largent, president of CTIA — The Wireless Association (and pro football Hall of Famer), asking for cellphone carriers to let people unlock their phones "once their contracts are fulfilled."

"We are anxious to work with you and your members to resolve this matter expeditiously," Wheeler stated in the letter. "Enough time has passed, and it is now time for the industry to act voluntarily or for the FCC to regulate."

MORE: Mobile Security Guide: Everything You Need to Know

In the letter, Wheeler wrote that the FCC has been working with the CTIA for eight months to amend CTIA's consumer code to allow such unlocking.

The FCC insists that carriers keep consumers informed that such unlocking is possible, and actively notify consumers when they are eligible to make an unlocking request — or even unlock off-contract phones automatically.

The proposed amendment also asks that unlocking be free for consumers, and be available, regardless of contract status, for military personnel being deployed overseas.

"It appears," Wheeler wrote, "that CTIA and the FCC are in agreement on all but the … item regarding consumer notification."

Wheeler, who preceded Largent as president of CTIA, ended the letter with a friendly but firm suggestion.

"Let's set a goal," Wheeler wrote, "of including the full unlocking rights policy in the CTIA Consumer Code before the December holiday season."

Source: FCC via Reuters

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Display 10 Comments.
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  • 5 Hide
    dextermat , November 15, 2013 11:23 AM
    Allas, a tiny little bit of faith as been partially restored
  • 0 Hide
    dalethepcman , November 15, 2013 12:07 PM
    Its a shame that people don't research the stuff they spend money on, but whine and complain when it doesn't do everything they thought it would. If you buy a phone from AT&T, don't expect to be able to take it to Verizon.

    With that being said, I applaud the FCC for actually trying to protect the consumer, but I also applaud Google for offering a true unlocked phone since the Nexus 1.
  • 1 Hide
    pbrigido , November 15, 2013 12:32 PM
    I won $5 from a scratch off, and now this? Friday is turning out to be a good day.
  • -1 Hide
    ceh4702 , November 15, 2013 1:11 PM
    The FCC should just convince one carrier to do this. Maybe the others will fall in line.
  • 1 Hide
    fudoka711 , November 15, 2013 5:00 PM
    Untili the FCC actually forces carriers to comply, carriers most likely won't voluntarily allow users to unlock their phones once their respective contracts have expired. From a profit/revenue standpoint, its in the carriers' best interests to keep users locked in. Carriers will likely voluntarily allow users to unlock their phones only when the FCC's threat's are about to become a reality. Then the carriers can make themselves look like they're the good guys.

    I do applaud the FCC for trying to do something "right" for a change though. It's a good step forwards.
  • -1 Hide
    dark_knight33 , November 16, 2013 5:29 PM
    What's the point since most phones are designed for one carrier only? Unless you can switch between VZW, ATT, Sprint, & T-Mobile, there is little point to this. I know T-Mo & ATT were interchangeable for 3G, I don't know if that's still the case for 4G. In any case, unless you can freely move your phone between all 4 carriers, they have little incentive to directly compete.
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , November 16, 2013 10:23 PM
    ^^^
    Net10 sells a package of sim chips that fit various phones.
    I unlocked my T-Mobile 4G phone before the deadline and slapped in the Net10 sim then flashed a Team Acid Rom. Unlimited 4G service for much less.
    The entered connection info was for old T-Mobile now Net10.
  • 0 Hide
    miguelrwilliamson , November 16, 2013 11:25 PM
    <b>my neighbor's half-sister makes $82 an hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for 8 months but last month her check was $21541 just working on the internet for a few hours. visit here =====>>> http://www.jobs25.com<b>
  • 0 Hide
    natashasparker , November 17, 2013 8:53 PM
    my roomate's mother makes $81 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired for 5 months but last month her pay check was $20615 just working on the laptop for a few hours. go to my site

    =======> W­W­W.J­O­B­S­2­5.C­O­M
  • 0 Hide
    crazedaku , November 18, 2013 7:14 AM
    And then we can move the metric system.
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